Tag Archives: water extraction

Nestle’s Problems in Chaffee County Multiplying: A One Year Decision-Making Moratorium Looming?

This from the Ark Valley Voice newspaper in Chaffee County:

An unnamed, high-ranking Chaffee County official, who spoke specifically on condition of anonymity, said that an immediate one-year moratorium should be placed by the County Commissioners on the decision to accept or deny the Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) application for 1041 and Special Land Use Permits. The official believes that such a moratorium would be prudent because of the complexity of the issue.

The 1041 and Special Land Use Permits would allow NWNA to pump water from a natural spring site located near Nathrop, Colorado and send it some five miles to a loading station in Johnson Village. Once at the loading station, the water would be trucked over Trout Creek Pass, twenty-five times per day, to Denver for packaging in an Arrowhead Bottled Water facilitiy. The wells that will pump the water out of the spring are known as the Ruby Mountain and Bighorn sites.

However, it appears that the application has not met several mandatory criteria, according to four documents: the “Planning Commission Recommendations Nestle Waters 1041 Application Comments Nestle Waters 1041 Permit”, the “Application Review Memorandum” dated February 27, 2009 and accompanying “Addendum” from April 16, 2009, the independent consultant report on the wetlands by Geomega of April 14, 2009, as well as an additional independent consultant’s report from Jean Townsend with Coley/Forest, April 16, 2009. All the documents can be found at the Chaffeecounty.org website.

It’s an interesting idea – and probably not good news for Nestle that a county official thinks a moratorium is needed – but why the moratorium in the first place?

If Nestle hasn’t meet the permitting conditions, isn’t a simple denial in order?

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More on Nestle’s Chaffee County Project: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

Nestle Water’s Chaffee County water extraction project – which once saw smooth sailing ahead – now may be heading for the rocks (via the Salida Citizen online site):

During public hearing earlier this week, findings by the county’s
economic impact consultant, Jean Townsend of Coley/Forrest differed
dramatically from those presented by Nestle consultant THK Associates
as the county tries to determine what economic impacts the Nestle
project would have.

Nestle hopes to receive county approval for a special use permit and
1041 regulations to pipe spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon
in Nathrop to Johnson Village. There, the water would be loaded onto
trucks for transport to a Denver bottling plant to become Nestle’s
Arrowhead brand of bottled water.

Demonstrating economic benefit is a condition of the 1041
regulations. Townsend found fault with Nestle’s portrayal of those
benefits on several significant fronts including the following:

– Though benefits were calculated on a 30-year term, Nestle has not
confirmed the duration of its water extraction plan that could be more
or less than 30 years.

– Local government property tax revenues are 61 percent less than Nestle estimates

– There will be no sales tax revenue to the county from the sale of
diesel fuel to Nestle trucks as well as electric utility use as THK
purported. This is an error THK admitted to in subsequent testimony.

– Local government expenditures would be higher than Nestle
estimated in part, because the county would have to hire ongoing
technical expertise to monitor Nestle pumping operations and any
subsequent mitigation

– The Nestle application did not address, quantify or provide for
the mitigation of the economic benefits lost due to the permanent
removal of spring water other than mentions of educational projects and
restoration work to the fish hatchery site on the property.

Townsend suggested the county work with Nestle to establish a
mitigation fund specifically earmarked for the project and funded by
Nestle that would help prevent against the county incurring negative
financial impacts.

THK’s Peter Elzi questioned Townsend’s math with respect to property
tax calculations and pipeline valuation. Townsend, bristling, defended
her math on property tax calculations and explained that she used state
mandated guidelines for assessing the value of the privately owned
water pipeline.

The Salida Citizen’s well-written story also cited overwhelming citizen resistance against the project, with most objecting to the loss of a natural resource with no real benefit to the area:

Avid fly-fisherman David Moore, spoke of the “myth of economic benefit”
saying Nestle is acting like it’s doing the county a huge favor by
“taking our natural resources.”

Businesswoman Colleen Kunkel told
commissioners that in her review of the Nestle 1041 application, she
found “no evidence that Nestle is a sustainable business of value to
this (Chaffee) county”

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Why is Nestle Waters Pursuing Chaffee County Project First?

Nestle Waters of North America’s hotly contested water extraction project in Chaffee County (CO) bears all the indications of being the first of many, and in fact, Nestle’s operative admits Nestle will soon be looking for additional spring sites around the state.

This perceptive letter in the SalidaCitizen.com site asks the simple question: Why us?

Why did Nestle come to Chaffee County first? I think it was not just for the water. I think Nestle wanted a small rural community with very limited resources to address their first 1041 permit application in the state.

Nestle’s stated intentions are to satisfy their market in the Rocky Mountain region. Bruce Lauerman, at the Board of Commissioners meeting in Buena Vista last Tuesday April 21, spoke of looking for additional spring sites throughout the state, with the help of the State’s Engineer’s Office. By setting a precedent with this first application approval, it will make it more difficult to deny the next permit in the next county.

I feel this is just the beginning of NWNA’s extended efforts to develop industrial water extraction projects statewide. This project has been presented as small and benign. NWNA is a subsidiary of the Nestle Corporation, a foreign company.

Swiss owned, it has been engaged in monopolization of water resources globally. I am concerned about the long term implications of Nestle engaging in “Buy and Dry” land purchases and/or other spring site developments, when it is yet to be established if the State of Colorado has capacity to support industrial extraction of water for profit.

This is the first project of its kind in Colorado, and a responsible approach would be to place a moratorium on projects of this kind until the issue can be studied, and determined if this type of enterprise is appropriate for our state. In this case, the concept is being hurried, without asking or answering important questions.

Nestle’s Chaffee County Extraction Project Faces Stiff Citizen Oppostion: Decision Delayed to Accommodate Comments

Via the Salida Citizen online news site, we discovered the reception “enjoyed” by Nestle at the Chaffee County Commissioners meeting wasn’t as friendly as they could have hoped.

After seven hours of discussion on technical data from a mounting pile of consultant reports and impassioned pubic testimony on Nestle Waters North America proposed water harvesting project, Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Frank Holman halted the proceedings. With more than 20 people still interested in commenting on the application, the commissioners agreed to continue public testimony on Wednesday, April 29, starting at 1 p.m. at the Salida SteamPlant Theater and Event Center.

The bulk of yesterday’s hearing before an overflow, standing room only crowd at the cramped American Legion Hall in Buena Vista focused on the two newest consultant reports reviewing the hydrology and economic impacts of Nestle’s plans to harvest water in Nathrop. Nestle’s plans call for piping spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon to Johnson Village where it will be loaded onto trucks bound for Denver for bottling and distribution under Nestle’s Arrowhead brand.

A bad sound system and horrible acoustics of the hall added an extra challenge as the audience that reached nearly 200 at its peak, strained to hear testimony from a parade of Nestle and county consultants as well as comments from citizens, the vast majority of whom voiced opposition to Nestle’s plans.

This is just an excerpt; the whole story is definitely worth a read, and interestingly – and despite repeated statements from Nestle suggesting there will be no negative environmental impacts from their projects – several new consultant reports and citizens groups disagree.

Will the citizens of Chaffee County – despite a late start – still pull this one out? Stay tuned.

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Independent Economic Analysis Says Nestle “Exaggerated” Economic Benefits to Chaffee County Extraction Project

This recently appeared in Chaffee County’s Salida Citizen, and addresses Nestle’s (now dubious) claims of economic benefits to Chaffee County:

A new economic analysis of the Nestlé 1041 application from Jean Townsend of Denver-based Coley/Forrest is highly critical of proposed benefits to the County from the Nestlé Waters project, and goes so far as to suggest that project revenues may not even cover County expenses.

The report cites several instances where Nestle’s claims of economic benefit to the county simply don’t apply:

Property tax revenues from estimated increases in NWNA property valuation are exaggerated, both because TABOR limits the ability of local governments to benefit from increased revenue and because a majority of school district revenues are controlled by the State.

Whether or not Nestlé trucks purchase diesel fuel in Johnson Village is immaterial, because State law does not allow local governments to collect sales tax revenue on fuel used by vehicles which travel on public highways.

Sales tax revenue from electricity usage by the project will not be available to Chaffee County because State law provides an exemption for manufacturing firms.

In addition, local government expenses may be understated, the memo suggests, because construction impacts have not been considered and because estimates of on-going impacts are arbitrary.

Nestle’s ability to externalize costs is legendary; has this Chaffee County-commissioned economic report caught them with their hand in the cookie jar?

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Maine Legislature Enacts Bill Requiring Majority Approval of Voters Before Districts Sell Water

Yet more news guaranteed not to make Nestle Waters/Poland Spring particularly happy:

KENNEBUNK — A bill to regulate how local water districts enter into contracts to sell water was enacted by the state Legislature last week.

Rep. Ed Legg (D-Kennebunk) introduced the legislation, which would require any consumer-owned water utility to hold a public hearing with notice before entering into a contract to sell or lease water rights.

Although the original text also included a referendum requiring majority approval of voters in the district to enter into such an agreement, Legg is pleased with the compromise passed on Wednesday, he said.

“It was a tough political battle,” Legg said. “We made a real step forward with this bill.”

Legg said he was prompted to introduce legislation by a proposed contract between the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District to sell water to Poland Spring in June 2008. Some residents in the district were opposed to the contract and organized a rally at the district’s Kennebunk office. The contract was tabled indefinitely in July 2008.

Legg said he was surprised to find that no public process is required for water utilities to enter into agreements like the Poland Spring contract. He hopes local water utilities – or the Legislature – will amend their charters in the future to require referendum for such contracts.

Norm Labbe, superintendent of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District, said last week he was comfortable with the bill that came out of the utilities and energy committee.

“It’s not very different from what the district would have done if the issue were to come up again,” Labbe said Wednesday. “We did not anticipate what happened last summer. It would be a very public process if it were to ever come up again.”

The language proposed by the Committee on Utilities and Energy requires a public meeting and notice at least 30 days before the meeting. A water district cannot enter into a contract until at least 30 days after the public meeting. Sales to existing customers or other water utilities would be exempt from the law.

Given that Nestle’s modus operandi includes flying under the radar as much as possible in rural communities (witness the behind-closed-door negotiations in McCloud, and the last-minute discoveries of contract negotiations in several Maine communities), this is clearly a step forward for Mainers wishing to retain local control of resources.

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As Chaffee County Realizes Nestle Water Extraction Project Offers Little to Community, Nestle Whips Out Checkbook

Nestle’s water extraction project in Chaffee County (CO) seemed headed for an easy permitting process – a process that’s now under threat of derailment at the hands of fast-growing local opposition.

Nestle’s problem? Despite the spin and public “outreach” (basically in-person PR tours of the site), they can’t offer residents a compelling benefit to offset the truck traffic, noise, and potential loss of local control to a Swiss-based multinational.

What do you when that happens? Nestle – brazenly – whips out its checkbook, promising a payoff to everyone willing to play ball. Is sprinkling a little “H2O-la” around the community Nestle’s latest adaptation to growing public opposition?

In the midst of an oddly stream-of-consciousness report about Nestle’s 1041 permitting process in the Mountain Mail newspaper, this little gem emerged:

The application does not meet economic diversity and economic development standards, planners said.

Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resources manager, announced a $500,000 endowment would be established and used for grants to local non-profits who facilitate the values of the Nestlé project [emphasis added].

An ad will be placed in The Mountain Mail within the next week which will search for local truck drivers to work with Nestlé’s contracted trucking company, Lauerman said. The company plans to research whether or not it can draw 50 percent of its drivers from Chaffee County.

Ted Richardson, planning commission chair, said “the information we have does not indicate a clear benefit, but that may change.”

Is it just me, or has Nestle – which earlier promised to “support the community” by doing nothing more than donating bottled water to nearby schools – decided its project needs a little checkbook-based boosterism to the tune of a half-million dollars?

And what of the oddly worded statement suggesting money would go to “local non-profits who facilitate the values of the Nestlé project?”

Finally, notice the weasel words surrounding Nestle’s “committment” to hiring local “plans to research whether or not it can…”

In other communities, Nestle has repeatedly said it won’t guarantee local hiring for any jobs (in McCloud they suggested that was illegal), but now they’re promising to “research” the possibility here?

Like so many of Nestle’s promises (ask the state of Florida how it ended up with half the jobs it was promised by Nestle), this one will likely be washed away once Chaffee County’s water starts enriching Nestle’s bottom line.

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In Salida, Nestle Whitewashes (Again) Adversarial Relationships With Rural Communities

It’s corporate spin day in Salida, Colorado, where Nestle’s traditionally heavy-handed approach to local media was played out in a long, unchallenged, extremely friendly interview with a local paper.

Rather than bore you with the details (read it yourself here), I’ll jump right to one favorite bit of rhetoric from Nestle Operative Bruce Lauerman:

Another public question was on Nestlé’s alleged bad relations in other communities. Lauerman said that it was “unfair to characterize Nestlé” by looking at two to three communities out of dozens around the country.

People need to dig deeper than the rhetoric that was showcased, he said. A list of contacts was given to BOCC, he said. The decision makers can have one-on-one contact, he said.

It’s always frustrating to witness the reception afforded to Nestle’s by an often uncritical local media. Given our lack of fulltime PR personnel, activists must often resort to simple activities like Letters to the Editor, and my response to the newspaper is below:

Editor:

In a recent Chaffe County Times article, Nestle representative Bruce Lauermann said it was “unfair to characterize Nestlé” by looking at two to three communities out of dozens around the country, and that people needed to “dig deeper than the rhetoric.”

I couldn’t agree more.

To refresh Mr. Lauermann’s memory, I’d like to point out Nestle’s in trouble with far more than 2-3 small rural communities around the country. A few highlights?

They just sued the tiny town of Fryeburg (ME) five times – losing the first four suits but finally finding the legal loophole they needed to force the town to permit a 24/7 truck loading station in a residentially zoned area.

In Mecosta County (MI), Nestle’s pumping damaged a wetlands, and Nestle refused to do anything about it until a citizens group filed suit – and won. Under threat of an injunction, Nestle finally halved its pumping, then immediately filed a suit challenging the right of Michigan citizens to bring the lawsuit in the first place.

In McCloud (CA), citizens who challenged Nestle’s negotiated-behind-closed-doors contract with the city’s Services District found themselves on the receiving end of a Nestle subpoena seeking access to their private financial records – an attempt to intimidate opposition through legal means.

I could go on and on (and I do on the StopNestleWaters.org Web site, where I also cover Nestle’s legal difficulties in Shapleigh (ME), Wells (ME), Newfield (ME), Guelph (Canada), Napa (CA), Kennebunk (ME), Florida, Mecan Springs (WI), and many others) but suffice it to say Nestle is not a multinational corporation that plays well with small towns when it doesn’t get what it wants.

What happens if Salida is stricken by a drought? Nestle’s already proven its reluctance to stop pumping once the profits are flowing (see Mecosta County above). What happens when Nestle wants to tap yet another source, and Salida decides it doesn’t want the noise or pollution of more truck traffic? (Hint: ask Fryeburg)

Is adaptive management in place to protect wells and wetlands? Are you willing to face the wrath of Nestle’s considerable legal department?

Are you really sure you want a Swiss multinational tapping your water when water issues are hampering agriculture and growth all over the state?

I agree with Lauerman in one instance: It’s important to look beyond Nestle’s rhetoric and (usually) empty promises of community support (free water for the school?).

Nestle’s have proven themselves a poor corporate neighbor in many other small rural communities.

Tom Chandler
StopNestleWaters.org

Nestle’s continued whitewashing of the benefits provided in return for the loss of local control over resources, traffic, zoning and others requires a lot of vigilance – often from unpaid volunteers.

Today’s thought? Send a letter to your editor today.

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Another Nestle Waters Blog Joins the Intertubes: Nestle in Chaffee County

The Internet remains a growing media channel by which under-funded, parttime activists can challenge the might of Nestle Water’s in their own community.

Today, we welcome Nestle in Chaffee County to the fold.


As we noted in our most-recent newsletter, citizen opposition to Nestle’s water extraction proposal in Chaffee County (CO) has materialized out of nowhere as of late, and Nestle’s formerly safe haven of Colorado no longer seems to peaceful.

We’ve added them to the blog feeds in our right sidebar, so check back often.

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Denver Post Opinion Piece Ignores Real Costs of Nestle’s Salida Project

Freelance writer Ed Quillen posted an opinion piece to the Denver Post about the Nestle’s proposed water extraction project in Chaffee County, suggesting he’d stayed out of the Salida project fight simply because it wasn’t a “big deal.”

“Almost daily I get a call from somebody in town, asking me if I will join the local Davids in their struggle against the Nestle Goliath. To date I have resisted, because as nearly as I can tell, it’s not that big a deal.”

The response in the “comments” section below the post was largely negative to Quillen’s position, and I get the distinct impression Quillen’s perception of a “big deal” is different from that of many of his fellow citizens.

And yes, he seems to have bought into the Nestle PR surrounding the “no negative impacts” of the project, despite the fact a consultant (hired by the county instead of Nestle) suggests the impacts could be substantial – especially in the face of a drought or climate change.

Colorado’s Eastern Slope isn’t – for the most part – all that wet, and Quillen’s logic strikes an odd note; he suggests it might be better for that water to leave the basin in a tanker truck than remain available for a developer to use.

Losing control over a significant local resource is rarely a good thing – especially when the economic benefits to the county are insignificant.

Quillen also overlook’s Nestle’s rather unsavory history in small towns, where local control of resources, zoning and traffic seem to evaporate when Nestle arrives in town.

What’s becoming clear is that Nestle’s water extraction projects are becoming increasingly unattractive to small rural towns, and what was formerly a slam-dunk for Nestle is fast becoming a contentious use of resources. Without even the prospect of local jobs to dangle, Nestle’s water extraction projects may increasingly resemble the lawsuit-fest we saw in Fryeburg.

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Shapleigh Residents Just Say “NO” to Nestle/Poland Spring: Pass Water Extraction Ordinance

I’m sure this is just the beginning of the story – Nestle’s willingness to use a legal bludgeon to ensure profits is well known – but the residents of Shapleigh have overwhelmingly voted to ban water extraction in the tiny Maine town (from the Journal Tribune):

SHAPLEIGH — Residents Saturday approved a rights-based ordinance that prohibits water extraction by corporations.

The vote was 114 to 66 and came 25 minutes into the Town Meeting – and only seven minutes after the call for the vote.

The vote makes Shapleigh the only Maine community to have approved a rights-based ordinance. Residents of Barnstead, N.H., passed a similar ordinance in 2007.

The question now: Will it be challenged?

Immediately following the vote, Selectman Bill Hayes seemed to suggest that selectmen might issue a challenge, but when confronted by a voter, said the board would seek legal advice.

“We’ll seek advice from counsel,” said Hayes. “If the ordinance isn’t enforcable, it puts us in a pretty precarious position as how to proceed.”

Both the town’s lawyer and a Maine Municipal Association attorney have said the rights-based ordinance is unconstitutional and against Maine law.

Selectman Mike Perro read a statement from town attorney Ron Bourque just before the vote, which said the ordinance was illegal, unconstitutional and unenforcable.

Martin Bretton, of the citizens group Protecting Our Water and Wildlife Resources, read an opinion from the group’s attorney, Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, who is also a candidate for governor as a Green Independent. Williams noted that the ordinance hasn’t been tested in court so, in her opinion, to say it is illegal or unconstitutional isn’t in an attorney’s purview.

Passage of the ordinance is a victory for the citizens group. When it approached selectmen with a petition last year to have the rights-based ordinance on the annual Town Meeting ballot, the group’s request was rejected, based on the lawyers’ opinions.

Town selectman fought the adoption of the ordinance every step of the way, though residents were clearly unhappy with a proposed “extraction-friendly” ordinance written by a consultant (referred to board by Nestle/Poland Spring).

There’s little doubt that Nestle Waters/Poland Spring – in an effort to forestall the adoption of similar ordinances elsewhere – would be willing to use its heavy legal hammer to turn back the ordinance — and create a little fear and doubt in the minds of others considering a similar action.

Good luck to the residents of Shapleigh, who voted to retain local control of one of their most critical resources.

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Letters Critical of Nestle Appear in Advance of 2/18 McCloud Meeting

Nestle’s upcoming Dog & Pony show in McCloud promises to be an interesting one; it’s been preceded by national broadcast of a popular fly fishing show critical of Nestle Waters’ reluctance to study the impacts on the McCloud river, and residents have been writing letters to the local paper.

I’m highlighting three letter here (including my own) – one  of which is a welcome effort from an Orting (WA) resident who outlines why the town’s interest in a Nestle bottling plant seemed so foolish.

Here’s an excerpt from McCloud resident Tina Ramus’ letter (you can read the entire letter here):

Their [ed: Nestle’s] decision to hold a meeting has raised a lot of questions.

Is Nestle so desperate to get a foot in door that they are ignoring the message from the community that this process will take more time?

The water science is underway, but it took five years of concerted effort from the community to get those studies started.

The project description should be base on the science, and right now, not even phase 1 is completed. How could Nestle be so bold as to propose a project without that and other critical information?

McCloud residents need to be cautious about what they hear Nestle saying.

Here, Orting resident Philip Heldrich pens an “Open Letter to McCloud

I live in Orting, Wash., fifteen miles outside Tacoma near Mt. Rainier. Nestle came here after near-by Enumclaw got wise and told Nestle to leave. But our mayor saw only dollar signs, placing her trust in corporate America.

Dave Palais made Nestle sound marvelous, promising 50 jobs and millions in utility and development dollars. We’re a small town (population 6,000) best known for our endangered salmon. The deal seemed too good to be true, and it was.

The Nestle water lease wanting its own private pipeline, consultants said, sought 22.21 percent of our city’s total water rights.

Nestle planned 24/7 trucking adjacent to three schools. There would be air and effluent pollution from plastic bottle production. Nestle planned to use more water in the summer during our yearly May to October drought.

What was our mayor thinking?

Finally, my own letter to the editor hasn’t been published, so I’m including it below in its entirety:

Nestle Doesn’t Understand Our Rural Values, Desire for Local Control

With Nestle conducting another meeting on February 18, I wanted to ask the Swiss-based mutlinational corporation about local control – or why it disappears whenever Nestle’s lawyers appear in small rural towns.

In Fryeburg, Maine, the tiny rural town’s planning commission has repeatedly said “no” to Nestle’s desire to build a 24/7 truck loading station in a residential area, yet in a clear attempt to circumvent Fryeburg’s right to say “no,” Nestle’s lawyers filed a suit and four appeals (the last was just argued at the Maine Supreme Court).

In Mecosta County (MI), Nestle’s pumping damaged a watershed, but Nestle fought to maintain their water extractions even as residents’ watched a wetlands dry up and docks no longer reached the water in an affected lake.

Under threat of an injunction, Nestle finally reduced pumping, then promptly filed suit to end the right of Michigan’s citizens to file lawsuits like those that Nestle lost.

And don’t forget that Nestle did zero environmental study on the impacts of their water mining on the McCloud River (perhaps McCloud’s #1 tourist draw) until it was forced to by citizens.

Finally, at their last (and disastrous) public meeting, Nestle didn’t bother to hire a local firm to facilitate, but instead spent those thousands of dollars on the services of a mega-corporate PR firm that clearly had no clue about our rural values or lifestyle.

Which brings us to the rub; despite the pretense, Nestle’s only a “good corporate neighbor” when they get what they want. When they don’t – as in Fryeburg – their lawyers crawl out of the woodwork and local control of streets, noise, water and economy simply disappear. They don’t care about us, our values, or our lifestyle.

Let’s look elsewhere for an anchor business – one that won’t try to usurp local control.

This meeting could be a turning point in Nestle’s pursuit of the tiny town of McCloud, and with the buildup trending largely anti-Nestle, should prove to be interesting.